Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. This includes natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist acts, war/battle, rape, death threats, sexual assault, or serious injury. So, What Happens When You Have PTSD?

This psychiatric disorder most commonly appeared after World War I and was referred to as shell shock . Meanwhile, after World War II the symptoms of PTSD were known as “combat fatigue”. However, PTSD doesn’t just happen to war veterans, it can happen to anyone, from any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age. Research shows that women are also twice as likely to experience PTSD as men. People with non-Latin non-white races also have a higher risk.

What Happens When You Have PTSD?
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Here are the Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD may begin within a month of the traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social situations, productivity and in relationships. The sufferer can also interfere with the ability of others to perform normal daily tasks.

Symptoms of PTSD are generally grouped into four types: Frequent recall of bad things, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can also vary over time or differ from person to person.

Remembering Bad Things 

Symptoms when people remember these bad things can include: 

  • Frequently recalls sad, repeated and unwanted memories of the traumatic event.
  • Relive the traumatic event as if it happened again (flashback).
  • Having nightmares about a traumatic event.
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reaction to something that reminds the sufferer of the traumatic event.


Avoidance symptoms may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event.
  • Avoid places, activities, or people that remind the sufferer of the traumatic event.

Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood

Symptoms can include: 

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, others, or the environment.
  • Despair about the future.
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event.
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships.
  • Feeling separated from family and friends.
  • Lack of interest in activities he once enjoyed.
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions.
  • Feeling emotionally numb.

Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions

Symptoms of altered physical and emotional reactions may include:

  • Easily startled or frightened.
  • Always be aware of danger.
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior.
  • An overwhelming sense of guilt or shame.

PTSD Can Be Prevented 

Unfortunately we cannot prevent certain events in life. After surviving a traumatic event, many people initially experience PTSD-like symptoms, such as not being able to stop thinking about what happened. Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt (all are common reactions to trauma). However, the majority of people exposed to trauma do not develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.

Therefore, it is important to get help and support in a timely manner to prevent normal stress reactions from getting worse and developing into PTSD. This may be speaking to family and friends who are willing to listen and offer comfort. In addition, the sufferer can also seek a mental health professional for a short course of therapy. Some may also find it helpful to strengthen their religious faith. Support from others can also help prevent someone from abusing alcohol or drugs.